The Producers: A?New Mel Brooks Musical
Stars: Steve Ross, Christian Goutsis
**** (out of 5)
It may be a musical about producers trying to ensure a mega-flop, but The Producers: A New Mel Brooks Musical is destined to be a big brassy hit for Neptune Theatre. It is uninhibited, funny — and gay.
With an audience in stitches, I-can’t-believe-they-did-that moments, and a half dozen scene-stealing performances, Ron Ulrich couldn’t have asked for a better way to leave the theatre after eight years as its artistic director.
Neptune marks one of the first times a regional theatre company has produced the multiple Tony Award-winner about two producers — Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom — hoping for a theatrical doomsday.
Their plan is simple: Find the worst play ever written and the worst producer to ensure a flop, then keep the money — procured from little old ladies — and go to Rio. Responsible for this outrageous romp is Mel Brooks, who has created an imaginative show and filled it with jovial shtick and one-liners.
The old-lady seducing Bialystock is carried by actor Steve Ross, who is commanding in the role, while Christian Goutsis is equally charismatic as Bloom.
It’s the actors playing the odd-ball group of theatrical misfits, that Bialystock and Bloom pull together to mount their hopeful flop, who really steal this show.
Chris Le Jeune is unflinching as demented Nazi playwright Franz Liebkind — even his pigeons coo and hail Hitler — while Ayrin Mackie masters the leggy Swede Ulla.
The real gems are Keith Savage and Christian Murray. Playing flamboyant director Roger Debris and his equally flamboyant — and swishy — common-law assistant Carmen Ghia, they had some in the audience doubled over in hysterics.
Added in the mix are memorable scenes of dancing grannies, leggy showgirls, and a pacing as quick as the humour.